Tuesday, June 23, 2015
It was a long time ago. An open door seemed to promise cool shade that hot summer. I remember the silence. The streets outside, with their endless tiny terraced houses, were quiet too, the ironworks silent, and the canal and boatyard nearby inactive. I think I recall a lingering smell of incense. I'm sure I remember the light and the dark – bits of painting and gilding gleamed and pale arches shone between a dark floor and brown roof timbers high above those arches and above tall windows. I remember rows of saints and the sense that this was something different – different from the run of austere nonconformist chapels and whitewashed Anglican churches I'd experienced, more colourful and lively than the pale pointed arches of cathedrals like Salisbury and Winchester that I'd been admiring not long before. I remember thinking that these round arches were somehow distinct from the ones (Norman) that I'd previously seen in parish churches. I'd not been to Italy yet, but I knew what a campanile was and that the tower of this church resembled one: square, tall, narrow, large-windowed, roofed with a pyramid. Italy. Yes, that must be what was behind this cavernous, apse-ended space with its rows of saints and its altar canopy and its rather dark east end, where hanging things and candlesticks and the pinnacles of the altar canopy glowed in the gloom.
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Top picture by Kaihsu Tai, used under Creative Commons license
Other pictures by Philip Wilkinson, as usual